Harvard Health Ad Watch: a treatment for fibromyalgia ("But you are so beautiful!"


This is one thing I’ve heard many instances from fibromyalgia sufferers. They speak about their situation to a buddy or member of the family and their response is "But you do not look sick" or "But you look so good." Sometimes the response is extra about rolling one's eyes or giving one other reply, reflecting the skepticism that the issue is even "real".

These are points addressed head-on in a tv business for Lyrica (pregabalin), a treatment for fibromyalgia. "For most people, I look like most people," says a lady. "But inside, I feel chronic and generalized pain." After clarifying that the ache is actual, this commercial for a drug to the patron then signifies one of many present theories in regards to the origin of the ache in fibromyalgia: to be brought on by hyperactive nerves. "

The temper of the promoting is darkish at first. Sad music serves as a backdrop for a lady who clearly suffers as a man – maybe her husband? – play within the park with two cute youngsters. Everything adjustments when she talks about taking Lyrica. Then the music skyrockets and the voiceover tells us that "Lyrica is supposed to soothe those nerves". The now smiling lady appears into the digicam and says, "I'm glad my doctor has prescribed Lyrica to her." The scene clears and she or he smiles. she's preparing for a neighborhood celebration. The voiceover informs us that "For some, Lyrica provides effective relief of fibromyalgia pain and improves function."

Then comes the litany of unwanted side effects which may accompany the treatment. More on these quickly.


The advert will get a variety of issues, together with:

the truth that the situation could also be "invisible" to others
the notion that the reason for fibromyalgia is unknown, however specialists consider that this can be on account of "hyperactive nerves"
the fibromyalgia character that seems within the advert is a lady – in actual fact, the illness is as much as six instances extra widespread in girls than in males
you will need to point out the dangers (and never simply the advantages) of a drug. The most typical and uncommon potential unwanted side effects are described. Do not overlook, nevertheless, that the FDA should embrace a description of the unwanted side effects or refer customers to extra info, as I acknowledged in my preliminary weblog on direct-to-consumer promoting, describing the professionals, cons and phrases to think about very fastidiously. ).

What is lacking

Some necessary info is lacking on this announcement, together with:

The restricted effectiveness of the drug. Note the language within the advert: Lyrica works nicely "for some". You is likely to be questioning how "some" are! A latest evaluation of earlier research discovered that solely about 10% of the topics studied had wonderful outcomes and that about 40% had superb or wonderful outcomes. Lyrica was solely modestly higher than a placebo pill. Another evaluation confirmed that amongst earlier research, solely 20% to 25% of topics within the research had "a reduction in pain intensity of at least 50%" in each at three months following treatment.
Advertising solely mentions one treatment choice: medication. But that's not the one choice. In truth, non-drug choices, reminiscent of common train and improved sleep, are thought-about important for profitable treatment of fibromyalgia.
No comparability with different medication. Various different medication are authorised and prescribed for fibromyalgia. Yet, there isn’t a point out of how Lyrica resides as much as these different prescribed medicines. According to a latest research, Lyrica doesn’t appear to be higher (or worse) than different authorised medication, together with Milnacipran (Savella) and Duloxetine (Cymbalta).
As with virtually all drug ads, the worth of the drug is just not talked about. In November, the worth of Lyrica was about $ 12 per 75 mg capsule, in line with Drugs.com. The advisable beginning dose is 75 mg twice day by day, which is roughly $ 24 / day or greater than $ 760 / month. Often, greater doses are wanted, which pushes the worth even greater. Of course, drug prices are a transferring goal as a result of medical insurance protection, co-payments, deductibles, pharmaceutical firm coupons and different components can have an effect on the worth you pay.

The dangers of treatment

The listing of unwanted side effects of this advert is so lengthy that many (or maybe most) viewers will likely be listening. Common unwanted side effects embrace dizziness, drowsiness, weight achieve or swelling of the extremities, however "serious allergic reactions" and "suicidal thoughts or actions" are the primary talked about. These dangers are listed in a visually attention-grabbing and splendidly distracting context – on this announcement, it’s about bubbles and big puppies. Yes, bubbles and puppies! Maybe hijacking the listing of issues which may happen if you take Lyrica is just not a coincidence. In truth, most drug ads do it.

The backside line

Advertisements for medication are not meant to be full or balanced. Their intention is to extend gross sales of their medication. Drug producers typically discuss in regards to the significance of those ads to tell the general public about treatment choices. But the apparent (and comprehensible) bias in direction of the marketed drug – Lyrica, on this case – makes the standard of schooling suspect. That's why I'm against direct client promoting for medication and medical procedures, and that's most likely one of many causes most international locations don’t permit it.

Yes, fibromyalgia is a actual and embarrassing illness, invisible to others. But drug treatment, reminiscent of Lyrica, is simply a part of the usual treatment. And it's not at all times efficient. Want extra complete and balanced info on fibromyalgia? Talk to your physician or see unbiased sources who are not attempting to promote you something. A pharmaceutical commercial is probably not your finest wager.

The Harvard Health Commercial Message: A Treatment for Fibromyalgia ("But You're So Beautiful!") First appeared on the Harvard Health weblog.



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